A Portland man has been found not guilty of public indecency for stripping at the city’s airport to protest what he says are invasive screening methods by the Transportation Security Administration.
Multnomah County Judge David Rees ruled that the naked protest was protected constitutional speech.
“It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do,” he said this afternoon in acquitting John Brennan, 50, The Oregonian reports.
The district attorney argued that Brennan violated a city ordinance by publicly exposing his genitalia to the opposite sex.
While passing through security April 17, Brennan, who manages large websites, was patted down by a TSA screener, who detected possible explosive nitrates on his gloves. He told Brennan he would have to submit to further inspection.
“I thought, ‘I’m now in trouble with the TSA,’ “ Brennan testified this morning during the brief trial. “And I’m aware that the TSA had incredible power.”
He said, “I thought about nitrates, and I thought about the Oklahoma bombing, and I thought nitrates were part of (that).”
To show he was not carrying explosives, he took off his clothes, telling the TSA agents he was doing so in protest.
“They’re getting as close to seeing us naked as they can. And we are upping the ante,” he told the judge.